1. Possessing life: famous living painters; transplanted living tissue.
2. In active function or use: a living language.
3. Of persons who are alive: events within living memory.
4. Relating to the routine conduct or maintenance of life: improved living conditions in the city.
5. Full of life, interest, or vitality: made history a living subject.
6. True to life; realistic: the living image of her mother.
7. Still in place as part of a larger mass. Used especially of rock: “In a great hall with pillars hewn out of the living stone sat the Elvenking on a chair of carven wood” (J. R. R. Tolkien). “Carved into a sandstone cliff face towered over by 18,000-foot peaks stood the colossal Buddhas: the universe, mapped in human form, cut from the living rock” (Matthew Power).
8. Having motion suggestive of life. Used especially of water: “The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place ... as one of the Lord's most favored abodes of life and light” (John Muir).
9. Informal Used as an intensive: beat the living hell out of his opponent in the boxing match.
1. The condition or action of maintaining life: the high cost of living.
2. A manner or style of life: preferred plain living.
3. A means of maintaining life; livelihood: made their living by hunting.
4. Chiefly British A church benefice, including the revenue attached to it.
Synonyms: living, alive, live2, animate, vital
These adjectives mean possessed of or exhibiting life. Living, alive, and live refer principally to organisms that are not dead: living plants; the happiest person alive; a live canary. Animate applies to living animal as distinct from living plant life: Something animate was moving inside the box. Vital refers to what is characteristic of or necessary to the continuation of life: You must eat to maintain vital energy.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.